This is the post that I wanted to write the other day, but the Muse had fled my shoulder – I was feeling brain dead.
You’ve been asked to do a five-minute presentation to a group of young schoolchildren on the topic of your choice. Describe your presentation.
With acknowledgement to the late, great Joyce Grenfell, whom I can only ever hope to imitate, but never emulate.
That’s it children, hands joined, skipping around the circle and… let’s sing along… Do you know the muffin man, the muffi…
George, dear, we are all going the other way around, won’t you join us? That’s right. Splendid.
Now children, let us all sit down in our circle and does anybody actually know what a muffin is? What’s that, Susan – a great big bun that makes you feel sick if you eat it all? No. dear – that’s only if you live in America. We, children, are British and here, where we live, a Muffin is a type of bread. Here is a Muffin, children, pass it around and have a good look…. GEORGE! Take that out of your mouth AT ONCE! We all want to see it, please.
Now, children, you all know what bread is, don’t you? Yes, Miranda, it’s what you have for your tea, with jam on – and what kind of bread do you have for your tea, is it this kind? What about you, Susan? And you… George? Oh, you have chips for tea? That’s nice for you dear, do sit down again. Nice and quietly.
Hold up your hands children if you have this type of bread on the table. Oh, what a lot of hands – oh, and George, you too! Oh, I see… chip sandwiches. Yes, lovely. With red sauce, too, that’s… yes… Now, children, hold up your hands if you have this kind of bread that is made at home. George, no, it doesn’t count as being home-made if your Mum opens the wrapper for you.
Children, I want to tell you something. The bread that Mummy buys at the shop – this kind in the packet – it has lots of things in it that aren’t terribly good for you. See this great big list of hard words on the packet? What do we call these things, do you know? Yes, Alfie, you are quite right, they are ingredients. Ingredients are the individual items that the loaf is made from. I am thinking about the extra ingredients – we have a special name for them. Susan? Yes, Additives! What a clever Susan you are.
Now, bread does not need all the nasty things in it, you know. Real bread is made from just a few ingredients. These are the ingredients here – can you count them? How many are there? Susan, dear, can you give somebody else a turn? Just sit quietly, dear. Peter? George? Miranda? Oh, Susan, you tell us then, how many? Yes, just four.
Now can anybody tell me what any these four things are? No? Nobody? Susan? Anybody?
GEORGE! Please don’t do that with the flour! Sorry Susan, what’s that? Flour, yes! Flour is one of the ingredients in our bread. We also need yeast, to make it rise, and water to mix the dough with and GEORGE! I am not going to tell you again. PUT THAT FLOUR DOWN!
Where was I… and we need a little salt in the bread to make it taste good. Pardon, Susan – your Mummy says salt is bad for you and you aren’t allowed to eat it? Well, a LOT of salt is bad for you but your body does need some to keep you working properly, you know and all bread has a little salt in it because without it bread tastes much less good. Yes, you can tell Mummy what I said. No, Susan, I don’t think she will come up here and give me a good telling off. Susan, don’t be pert! I am not interfering with your upbringing.
So, children, have you ever seen bread dough before the bread is baked? Miranda dear, please take this bowl and show it to everybody in the circle. Everybody take a little piece of the dough to feel, then put it back again. George, I said put I back, please. GEORGE – put that back this INSTANT! Thank you.
Now, I would like everybody to try a little piece of bread and butter from this plate of Supermarket sliced bread. No, George, I don’t care how hungry you are, just one piece, please or there won’t be enough to go around – and you won’t want your lunch.
Everybody had a piece?
Now, try a piece of this lovely home-made bread. What, Alfie – you don’t want any. You think it looks horrible and knobbly? That’s the crust dear, it is the best part. Just try a little piece. No, it won’t make you sick. Just eat it, I promise you will enjoy it…
Miranda, dear, would you please fetch Mr Smith the Caretaker, tell him to bring his bucket and sawdust.
Children, let’s have a vote… what George… what’s that about carrots? We are talking about bread dear, do concentrate. A vote, children, hands up who preferred the sliced bread? Now who prefers the home-made loaf? Susan, dear, you didn’t vote. Oh, you prefer the loaf that mummy buys from the Artisan Baker in the Village. Yes, I am sure that you do, dear.
Shall we sing the Muffin Man again, children?